won't slice a pineapple

"Propose to any Englishman any principle, or any instrument, however admirable, and you will observe that the whole effort of the English mind is directed to find a difficulty, a defect, or an impossibility in it. If you speak to him of a machine for peeling a potato, he will pronounce it impossible: if you peel a potato with it before his eyes, he will declare it useless, because it will not slice a pineapple." Charles Babbage, 1852.

(Babbage was the father of computing, a 19th Century inventor who designed a mechanical computer, a mass of brass levers and cog-wheels. But in order to make it, he needed much greater accuracy than existing technology provided, and had all sorts of problems, technical and financial. He solved most of the former but not the latter, and died before he was able to see his Difference Engine working. The proof that his design was correct was shown later, when working versions were made. The difficulties he encountered in getting support from his government weren't exclusively English.)

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